|Image from LizGartonScanlon.com|
Get out your art supplies and put on your thinking cap, it’s time to make art with the creative preschoolers in this book. As the kids put together all the elements of their school play in the beautiful illustrations, from painting sets, playing music, learning the dances, and even making snacks for the audience, Scanlon’s spare, rhyming text pushes the story along at a skipping pace. These kids all come to the same conclusion, it's fun to “Make art!”
Scanlon’s brief text, just a few words per page, makes this a great book for toddlers and preschoolers with short attention spans. Although minimalist, the text manages to describe the actions, sounds, and joys of creating art. The illustrations feature a cast of racially diverse children dressed in bright colors, stripes, and patterns. The illustrations use a variety of mediums to create dynamic and colorful compositions. I especially love the collage elements, such as musical notes made from sheet music, photographs of real art supplies and equipment, and word definitions from dictionaries.
Use this as a quick introduction or a snappy wrap up for a unit or storytime on art. Good pairings for younger kids include, Green and Dragon Dancing. For older kids, you could use Crafty Chloe, Zoozical or The Pink Refrigerator.
Ask the kids if they can guess what the characters in the book are getting ready to do and how their art will help. When you get to the last page, point out the different elements of the show and ask the kids if they remember the characters making that piece earlier in the book. Flip to those pages to show the art in progress and then go back to the final page to see the finished product.
Ask the kids what kinds of art they noticed in the book. Make sure to define and explain as you go along. Have lots of how-to arts and crafts books available for check out.
The possibilities for extending this book into crafting activities are unlimited. Turn to any page in the book for ideas including, finger-painting, sewing, knitting, clay work, and painting. If you have a lot of time and energy, have the kids put on a play of their own just like the kids in the book. It can be a show about what each child wants to do when they grow up, like the play in the book, you can choose another theme (colors, seasons, etc.) or let the kids mash all their ideas together and call it a variety show.
Read this short article by Scanlon on the Cynsations Blog about the inspiration behind this book. I also like the kid-friendly About Me section on Scanlon’s website.